Q&A with... Kenny Phillips

The Post’s Steve Serby sat down with the Giants’ 23-year-old strong safety who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Q: Are you ready to be Superman again?
A: That’s the plan.

Q: How heartbreaking was it when you learned you’d need microfracture surgery on your left knee after the second game of the 2009 season?
A: It was real tough. I was starting to really, really feel part of the team. I just felt like I missed an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. I felt at the time that’s where we were heading.

Q: The low point emotionally?
A: Probably as soon as it happened. I was starting to feel comfortable back there playing safety. Everything was going so well.

Q: Did you fear your career might be over?
A: Not at all. The doctors and trainers reassured me guys who have had this type of injury before have made a 100-percent recovery.

Q: Low point of the rehab?
A: When I first started running. It just felt so weird. I was like a fish out of water. . . . A lot of limping. It didn’t look right, it didn’t feel right.

Q: Jason Kidd had microfracture surgery. . . . Did you talk to him about it?
A: No. I talked to a few guys on our team who reassured me I’d be all right.

Q: Guys who’d had the same operation?
A: Similar.

Q: How scary was it when you had a gun pulled on you?
A: They say your life flashes before your eyes. . . . It was just so surreal. It was like slow motion. It made me think about life differently. I had more than one gun pulled on me growing up.

Q: The first time, you were in sixth grade?
A: I had a chain on. I was walking home from school and a guy rode up on me and snatched it off my neck and rode away. I ran home and told my father.

Q: The second time someone pulled a gun on you?
A: To show off in front of his girlfriend. He thought one of us hit his car with firecrackers. He jumped out of his car yelling things at us. We weren’t respecting what he was saying. He decided to pull out a gun.

Q: What did you do?
A: I apologized.

Q: Do you think you’re more like Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, stylewise?
A: Sean Taylor. He never cared how he really looked. I don’t tape up my shoes or have a million wristbands on. I just go out there and play. Sometimes, Sean wouldn’t wear gloves.

Q: What was it like for you being at his funeral?
A: It was tough . . . it was real tough. It was a real emotional time for me just because I admired the guy so much. To hear everyone speak, and say how he changed his life around. . . . He died at such a young age (24).

Q: Did Sean’s murder change you in any way?
A: I never took life for granted from the first day that gun got pulled on me. It just made me more aware of my surroundings.

Q: Growing up in Carol City, Fla.?
A: It had a few street gangs, but for the most part, you just had to be careful. I survived. It wasn’t the worst neighborhood, but it definitely wasn’t the best. I learned a lot playing outside with my friends. You kinda grew up fast. You see so many bad things happening . . . guys selling drugs.

Q: You lost some friends to the streets?
A: I lost a few friends to guys being dumb, just young people not appreciating life.

Q: Were any close friends shot and killed?
A: Some close, some not so close.

Q: Best single play you ever made on any level?
A: Wow. That’s hard to say.

Q: How about the 100-yard interception return in high school?
A: Probably wasn’t the best, but that was pretty cool.

Q: What happened on the play?
A: The quarterback rolled to his right, my left, I was playing almost like a one-third. I ran over, the receiver tipped it right into me.

Q: Clear sailing to the end zone?
A: Pretty much. I was the only one there.

Q: You’re right, that can’t be the best play . . . how about your hit on Mewelde Moore?
A: I wouldn’t say that was the best. That was pretty nice (chuckles).

Q: What’s better, making a big hit or a pick for a touchdown?
A: The pick. It does so much more. You get points on the board for your team. It gets everyone excited on defense.

Q: When you were 10, your father had to talk your mother into letting you play football?
A: I guess she thought I would get hurt. She never gave me an explanation why. My father got tired of me begging her and got her to let me play.

Q: You played basketball in high school?
A: I played power forward. I was just good at getting rebounds. I could out-jump everyone.

Q: Antrel Rolle?
A: It’s a privilege playing with a guy like him. He’s a playmaker, a great player . . . and a great friend, too. Anything you need, he’s gonna be there for you.

Q: Perry Fewell?
A: Great coach. He has a lot of energy, real aggressive guy. You could tell we’re gonna get after people.

Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Obama; Oprah; Michael Jordan.

Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Paid in Full.”

Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
A: Alicia Keys.

Q: Favorite tattoo?
A: I have a scroll with my mom, my dad and my little brother’s names. I’m really big on family.

Q: You have one that says Heart Of A Lion.
A: It’s just how I felt at the time.

Q: Another one says Wartime.
A: That goes back to high school. Our legendary coach, Walt Frazier, it’s something he used to say right before the games. Santana Moss, Sinorice and myself and a few other guys in the league have it on their arm. He used to get everybody pumped up.

Q: Another one says Faith. You’re spiritual?
A: Yes, very.

Q: Does that come from your parents?
A: I was in church every Sunday growing up.

Q: When did you get your Destined To Be Great tattoo?
A: Right after my freshman year in college (University of Miami) after we lost the Peach Bowl to LSU. I felt like I was coming into my own. I had a fresh, new start. That’s what I felt in my head so I put it on my body.

Q: Do you still feel that way?
A: Yes I do. It’s never gonna change.

Q: Are you Destined to Be Great as a New York Giant?
A: That’s the plan. And I hope it’s theirs, too.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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